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Kyiv: Street Photography

After our three day visit of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (catch up by reading my last blog - "Chernobyl: Reclamation"), our group spent two days wandering Kyiv.

Day 1

If you've followed my Ukraine adventure, you'll know that I left my camera on the plane! So, on the day after our Chernobyl trip, my friend Joe and I took a taxi to Kyiv Bituminous International Airport - armed with a translation written by a helpful receptionist at Hotel Tourist.

The airport police (who I was told had my camera) were just as "professional" as their counterparts during the hotel bomb scare fiasco! When presented with the note, a first policeman read the translation while leaning against the police office window, and without looking up from his lazy, slouched position, passed the note to his colleague next to him. In exactly the same manner, after reading the note, the second policeman reached to his left and knocked on a door... Out comes one of the unhelpful lost property store room assistants from three days prior! Long story short, I finally got the camera back!

By this time, the rest of our group were at a motor show just outside Kyiv. Travel weary, Joe and I decided to have an easy day wandering the capital instead - although by all accounts, the car show would have been a good day out! In actual fact, during our "easy day" we covered more miles on foot than any day in the zone! I was also a little "photoed-out" - so the camera stayed in my bag for the most part - except to check it was still there from time to time!

During our bimble, we found a nice place to eat lunch at "Bassano Dolceteka 2." The food was great, at a very reasonable price. After that, we did the typical touristy activities of sight-seeing and shopping for souvenirs. After a long day of walking Kyiv, Joe was keen to eat in "BEEF" - a highly rated steak house he'd found online. Joe thoroughly enjoyed the food and the experience. For me though, unless ordering a burger (which I did of course), meals were about £100 upwards. Yes, the steaks looked amazing - but sat amidst cringingly loud, brash and pretentious people intent on flaunting their wealth and status, it was little uncomfortable for me.

Day 2

On day two, most of the group were back together again. Our fifteen-or-so strong group headed out to explore the city on public transport - led by organiser, Craig George, who had done masses of research and seemed reassuringly comfortable with navigating the city's public transport.

I was amazed to find that all public transport services in the city cost just 8 hyrvnia (24 pence). So every bus we jumped on, metro station we rode on, and the funicular was the same - making getting around pretty cheap and strait-forward.

Having kept my camera safely in my bag the day before, I was keen to take a few photos around the city. I didn't go crazy though. In fact, I only ended up with the images shown in this blog. I also left all my accessories at the hotel so as not to slow me down - taking just the body and one 24-105mm lens.


Copyright: Andrew Hocking 2019


The first "keeper" I took, was of a typically soviet looking UAZ 452 ambulance - parked squarely between these arches. It was just asking for a side elevation shot!

As I was shooting from across a busy road, it took a little while to capture the shot free of passing traffic. Luckily though, our group was loitering in the area - giving me enough time to bag the shot!


Copyright: Andrew Hocking 2019


Shortly after, while waiting for our group to reassemble after spiting up to take the funicular, we listened to this street pianist. He bashed out a good tune! I shot this low in order to eliminate converging vertical lines - keeping the piano square. As I took the shot, I envisaged a monochrome conversion and square crop to simplify the image.

After we had split up to ride the funicular, we naturally fragmented into smaller groups. For the remainder of the day, I wandered the city with Joe, Craig and Steve.

We strolled down to the old city, passing through a street market on a cobbled hill (where I wished I had bought the previous day's souvenirs from, instead of a shop).

Craig, who as I mentioned before had done a great deal of research, took us to Puzata Hata - which we decided must be Ukraine's version of Weatherspoons! Once again, the food was very reasonable in terms of cost - and much tastier than the slop we had in Chernobyl! That's a little unfair, some of the meals in Chernobyl were quite tasty, such as a hot pot I devoured on our last day.


Copyright: Andrew Hocking 2019


After we ate, Craig was keen to take the Metro back to our hotel - stopping off at Zoloti Vorota Station on the way. The station was very picturesque - with arched ceiling and chandeliers.

I aimed to capture the scene with a slow shutter to blur the passers-by. Without my tripod, I was shooting handheld, but at 1/6 of a second and a 2 second timer, I managed to brace against a post (conveniently where I wanted to shoot from!) to avoid too much camera blur - keeping the station's features reasonably sharp.


Copyright: Andrew Hocking 2019


While shooting in Zoloti Vorota Station, I asked for willing volunteers to stand on the platform while a train whizzed past - so I could try another hand held slow shutter shot. Joe and Steve obliged. This one of Joe turned out best. At screen resolution it's just about passable - but at higher res, the blur from camera shake (or possibly model movement, or both) is unfortunately a little too much!

After shooting in the underground station was wrapped up, we headed back to our hotel and out for our last group meal in Ukraine - at another Puzata Haha!

I found Kyiv, especially old Kyiv to be a very nice city. Not ridiculously busy, very clean, and full of history & culture. Throughout my trip, it was a bit of a culture shock to find the people in service industries were very hit and miss - evenly split!

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